In these past few months, every studio has had to change their plans for film releases in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Universal struck a surprising (and controversial) deal with AMC to limit their films from months long-releases to a short 17 days before being available for Premium Video On Demand. Warner Bros, meanwhile, has been fighting to release Tenet in theaters, with a more traditional international release being accompanied by a much more limited release in the United States, despite projections that theaters could potentially remain closed until mid-2021.
Disney has opted to put a few of their smaller films (such as the critically reviled Artemis Fowl and the upcoming The One And Only Ivan) onto their Disney+ streaming service, as well as moving up the planned theatrical release of Hamilton up from its initial October 2021 date. With their Fox films, which are contractuallly obligated to have a theatrical release, they have proceeded to kick them down the road endlessly, such as the infamously luckless New Mutants. With their blockbusters they had no choice but to push them back significantly, with Marvel Studios entire Phase 4 film slate suffering significant production and release delays. After all, with such high budgets, they couldn't simply just release them on Disney+, could they?
Yesterday, however, that changed. Disney announced that, at a price of $29.99 (at least in the United States), you would be able to purchase early access to the $200 million dollar blockbuster Mulan on Disney+ in regions where it would not recieve a traditional theatrical release (such as in China). While Disney claimed that this is currently planned to be a "one-off", speculation is abound that this is likely Disney testing the waters for other high-budgeted fare currently sitting on their shelves.
Now, the question is, if Mulan succeeds, that would naturally lead to the assumption that Black Widow (and other films like Soul and The Eternals, which have also experienced large delays) could be next on the list. Since many of these films are very far into post production if not very nearly completed, it stands to reason that if Disney chooses to put these on Disney+ as premium VOD, their current release dates may move up a bit. At the least Black Widow's November release in the US would likely move to it's international date the week before on October 28th, like in the UK. Perhaps Eternals may even move back to a 2020 release date after all, meaning that Phase 4 would be (largely) back to the original order that was announced at SDCC last year.
Do you think this is a possibilty? Should Disney try this new tactic with one of their biggest franchises? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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